Stroke Risk Increases With the Number of Miscarriages: Study

Stroke Risk Increases With the Number of Miscarriages: Study
A doctor holds the hands of an elderly patient, checking for signs and symptoms of stroke. (lordn/Adobe Stock)
Steve Milne

Researchers at the University of Queensland have found that women with a history of miscarriage and stillbirth are at a higher risk of suffering a stroke later in life.

Comparing pooled data from more than 610,000 women in Australia and six other countries, the study found that the risk of stroke increased with multiple pregnancy losses.

Senior author of the study, UQ School of Public Health’s Professor Gita Mishra, said in a release on Thursday that many women were not aware that pregnancy loss was an early alert for disease risk later in life.

“This is the first study big enough to demonstrate a robust link between stroke and recurrent miscarriage and very rare events like recurrent stillbirths,” she said.

“It’s vital for older women who have suffered multiple miscarriages or stillbirths to share their history with their GPs, no matter how much time has passed.”

Whereas one in five pregnancies (19 percent) end in miscarriage, less than five percent of women will have multiple miscarriages and around one percent will experience three or more.

The study demonstrated that the more pregnancy losses experienced, the greater the risk of stroke, with one miscarriage increasing stroke risk by seven percent compared to women who hadn’t suffered a miscarriage, and two miscarriages raising the risk by 12 percent for a non-fatal stroke and 26 percent for a fatal one.

Then, after three or more miscarriages, stroke risk increased by 35 percent for a non-fatal stroke and 82 percent for a fatal one compared to women with no history of pregnancy loss.

The risk also increased for each stillbirth a woman experienced compared to women with no history of stillbirth. Having had two stillbirths increased the risk of non-fatal stroke by 29 percent and fatal stroke by 26 percent.

Mishra told The Epoch Times via email that the common thread between pregnancy loss and stroke is not clear, but vascular issues or endocrine dysfunction could potentially be at play.

“But it could be due to a common risk factor, such as a genetic factor, that might predispose women to both pregnancy loss and stroke events,” she said.

What to Do About It

Mishra said that for women who are still grieving and processing a pregnancy loss, now is not the time to worry about these findings, but for those heading into perimenopause or who are post-menopausal and have a history of multiple pregnancy lossess, they should talk to their doctor about managing their health risks.

“Your doctor might recommend medication, but there are a lot of lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of stroke,” she said.

In order to minimise stroke risk, the  Stroke Foundation recommends quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising for 30 minutes a day, and managing blood pressure.

The study is published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Steve is an Australian reporter based in Sydney covering sport, the arts, and politics. He is an experienced English teacher, qualified nutritionist, sports enthusiast, and amateur musician. Contact him at [email protected].
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